Garden State - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Garden State Reviews

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½ March 11, 2016
A film that feels like a time capsule every time you watch it. Great Soundtrack and amazing performance from Natalie Portman and Zachary Braff.
January 8, 2016
Super cute. I �� Natalie Portman
October 22, 2015
I think I just fell in love with Natalie Portman
October 19, 2015
Garden State is Magical, vivid, concise and deep. Zach Braff at his best on an adventure with Natalie Portman and an amazing soundtrack and heart to back it up.
½ October 1, 2015
He's come a long way from his time on Scrubs, good movie, really enjoyed it dealing with relationships, love, friends and getting on with sh*t.
September 23, 2015
The years haven't been so kind to 2004 indie wunderkind "Garden State". While it was a gargantuan success upon release (it made back its budget a nauseating amount of times, got a Grammy for its soundtrack, and defined the twee indie romantic drama for a generation), critics, along with the public, have decided that it wasn't so good after all, preferring to be believe that it's actually a sickening, uninspired piece of whining hipster clichs. If it starred Zooey Deschanel instead of Natalie Portman, backlash prone audiences might roll their eyes with sarcastically lethal force.
Maybe it's the fact that I was born too late to consider it a masterpiece during its prime shelf life or maybe it's because I don't find quirky indie sparkle to be all too annoying unless whimsy becomes cloying - but I liked "Garden State", now-dated Coldplay songs, Manic Pixie Dream Girl-ness and all. I can understand the newfound hate - its tropes have become paralyzingly tired ever since Michael Cera's career died - but one has to remember that things weren't all cutely kooky before it crash landed into theaters, unless you count Hal Ashby's most eccentric moments of the 1970s. It stands as a likable product of the times, aged in its soundtrack but not in its emotional expression.
Writer/director Zach Braff, making his filmmaking debut, stars as Andrew Largeman, an immensely depressed 20-something living in Los Angeles in pursuit of a currently fledgling acting career. (His only screen credit consists of a retarded football player in a lackluster TV-movie). His heavily medicated world is rocked when his father (Ian Holm) brings news that his paraplegic mother has died, sending him back to New Jersey after nine years of intentionally staying far away from it. Emotionally numb, Andrew catches up with old friends with the enthusiasm of a cartoon donkey; he can hardly wait to escape his past once again and continue living miserably alone.
That all changes when he unintentionally meets Sam (Natalie Portman), an exuberant young woman with a habit of pathologically lying. With a charmingly outlandish outlook on life, she may be the bright spot needed to dig Andrew out of the pitch black well he's been living in for his entire existence; their mutual idiosyncrasies could repair themselves with a plentiful serving of cinematic love.
"Garden State" isn't perfect - it drifts back and forth between offbeat humor and sad-sack drama with a questionably twee exterior - but it has moments of relatable brilliance; thank God those moments are frequent instead of rare. Braff's sensitive but touchingly personal writing is vulnerable without being wimpy, funny without being crass; his direction, with just enough visual flair, travels along with impressive perceptiveness. His soundtrack has, in no doubt, aged, but we can't imagine a different sort of music playing as the characters reach thousands of mini-climaxes and discover themselves after years of believing the world had given up on them.
And while it may be Braff's vanity project, his acting is not what makes "Garden State" such an immediately likable film - its biggest asset is Portman, who brings a vivacious energy needed to make both Braff's Andrew, and the film's, mood go from blaring gloominess to infectious hope. She is lovable when everything else threatens to be a major downer. So say what you will about "Garden State": it works; the dusty soundtrack is as fitting as the inclusion of Portman's archetypal Manic Pixie Dream Girl. The backlash makes a certain sort of sense, but it's much too harsh when we live in a world that Iggy Azalea also inhabits. Don't run away in fear of incurring the wrath of Tumblr users - see this early-2000s classic. It'll be worth it.
½ September 21, 2015
Garden State is witty, cute, and full of charm. That's about it though.
½ September 16, 2015
Another film that altered the way I view films. Really the first "indie" film I saw that resonated with me outside of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Both of those films struck a balance between how I now view melancholy independent films and made me appreciate both the happy ending and the heartbreaking-but-more-likely-real endings of movies like Eternal Sunshine or Lost In Translation.
September 15, 2015
Great original, quirky movie. Loved it! And GREAT soundtrack to boot! :)
August 27, 2015
Charming film with a lot of depth and pretty sharp acting...Natalie Portman's character is so adorable , she will win you over after her first five minutes on screen ! 3 Stars
½ July 29, 2015
Funny and quirky comedy that has enough grace to carry five movies.
July 19, 2015
Garden State is not a perfect movie. There are many unlikable characters and some scenes seem a bit unneeded. But where the movie shines is the two main leads. Zach Braff is good as always and is able to handle writing, directing, and acting in stride and Natalie Portman is fantastic as a character I have never seen her play before. Where Garden State shines it really shines.
½ June 19, 2015
There isn't some big message or story behind this movie. it just is what it is, and it does it perfectly. With Braff & Portman taking the helm perfectly, and help a slightly loose narrative fall on it's feet gracefully.
½ May 31, 2015
"If cancer were pretentious, it would be Garden State."
½ May 22, 2015
Got it and watched for first time since theaters. I had in my mind as 4 now 2.5 after 10 year hiatus.
½ April 19, 2015
Well what an excellent romantic dramedy. I just witnessed this for the first time and I was enthralled with this film. Zach braff did a fantastic job as a first time director showing restraint and getting quality work out of a diverse cast. My favorite performance in the film was by Natalie Portman who gave an offbeat performance and gave the film a boost the second she came on screen. This film is an excellent example of why I love romantic dramedies when they're well done with heart. They can have so much depth when the chemistry between the leads is so dynamic as it was here between Braff and Portman. Garden State provided an excellent script combined with winning performances and just enough charm consistently throughout that made this a memorable film.
April 12, 2015
Perfectly scripted genius.
½ April 10, 2015
- I've seen this film many times, it's pretty close to perfection for me. Great script, whole cast is excellent, strong soundtrack, and excellent cinematography. See it out!

- I think this is a great film. It's a very quirky and original film where every element just works for me. It's well written, well acted and very well shot and has an amazing soundtrack. Check it out!
April 1, 2015
God, where do I start? This film is terrible, just awful. true, there are some chuckle-worthy moments and I can definitely relate to some parts of the film (Not being able to cry at funerals and feeling terrible about it, Seeing your hometown as boring, lame, and dead. Seeing your old friends grow up to either do nothing or become something you never thought they would be or just isn't them. Feeling lost, adrift, and aimless), if the film was actually about a guy doing some soul searching....maybe it would have been good. It likes to pretend thats what it's about but it's really just a generic, bland, rom-com-dram (It likes to pretend that it's deeper than it actually is. It's also downright harmful as it seems to encourage people to stop taking their meds.). Natalie Portman's Sam is easily one of the worst, most unrealistic, and most annoying and grating females in film (She is a manic pixie dream girl on coke, and I don't mean the soda. I really wanted someone to shoot her point blank in the face). It's also really annoying that one of the main themes is wanting to do something original and unique that no one has ever done before (This is brought up twice). Get the fuck over yourself Braff. Zach Braff's Andrew doesn't fare a whole lot better than Sam does as he is almost a non-prescence in the film. You don't ever really feel any emotion towards him as he is an apathetic, extremely depressed man. He's the focal point of our story, but kind of just wanders around. He never really adds anything to the plot, or even does anything. He's the human equivalent of wallpaper, he just kind of blends into the background for the whole film. The film is very quirky, like through the roof quirky.....to the point where it starts to make you nauseous. I also found it downright insulting that the film seems to imply that all you really need is a girl, and that a man is defined by the girl he's with. Topped off with a fairly awful soundtrack, Garden State offers little for anyone. SKIP IT!
½ February 24, 2015
I wish to make such movie some day.
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